Calling all chocolate lovers: For chocolate treats in pretty much every form imaginable, Fairfax City’s 27th annual Chocolate Lovers Festival is the place to be.
Set for Friday, Feb. 1, from 6-8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 2, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 3, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., it offers everything from candy to cupcakes, cookies, fudge, ice cream, cakes and even a chocolate fountain.
“The festival, as always, will be a blast for anyone who has a sweet tooth,” said Mike McCarthy, City communications and marketing director. “Not only is Liquid Chocolate back this year – think everything from chocolate wines and beers to cocktail-and-dessert pairings – but it’ll be two days, starting Friday night and rolling into Saturday.”
“We’ll have the Taste of Chocolate in Old Town Hall, and our silent auction on Sunday promises to be bigger and better than ever,” he said. “The best part is that admission to everything is free; attendees simply pay for the sips and sweets as they go.”
In fact, for six years in a row – every year this survey has been held – Fairfax’s Chocolate Lovers Festival has placed first in the category, Best Food Festivals in the Northern Region, by readers of Virginia Living magazine.
The highlight is the Taste of Chocolate, where attendees purchase samples of delicious chocolate treats from two floors of vendors in Old Town Hall. Another showstopping event is the Chocolate Challenge, in which both professionals and home cooks compete to see who can make the most beautiful and creative chocolate sculptures, cakes and cupcakes. (Website: ChocolateFestival.net).
But that’s not all. Throughout the festival, there’s a full slate of fun-filled activities for children and adults alike. There’ll be magic, juggling, musical performances, face-painting, fairy tales, a cake walk, fire-safety puppet show, Chocolate Caper mock trial, cupcake-decorating and open houses in historic buildings.
All venues are handicap-accessible, but only certified service animals are allowed inside any event site.
Liquid Chocolate, Barbecue Lunch
The Feb. 1, Liquid Chocolate event goes from 6-8 p.m. and features an intriguing assortment of chocolate libations. It’ll be held inside a heated tent on Old Town Square’s upper parking lot, 3999 University Drive. And because it’s so much fun, it’ll return on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
There’ll be beverages for all ages, ranging from chocolate soda, hot chocolate and chocolate tea for children to chocolate wines, beers and martinis for adults. Admission is free; alcohol tastings are $2 each, nonalcoholic tastings, $1 each.
Participating will be: Twin’s ACE Hardware, offering chocolate soda; The Wine House; Adroit Theory Brewing Co., chocolate stout beer; MurLarkey Distilled Spirits; Freddy’s, chocolate milkshakes; and River-Sea Chocolates, chocolate tea and cacao juice.
A new, food event will be held Saturday, Feb. 2, when the Kiwanis Club of Fairfax offers barbecue lunches and ice cream sundaes, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at Fire Station 3, at 4081 University Drive.
Taste of Chocolate
The festival’s signature event, the Taste of Chocolate, will be held Feb. 2, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Feb. 3, from noon-4 p.m., in Old Town Hall, 3999 University Drive (corner of Main Street and University Drive). Strollers may be left on the front porch; a fully accessible entrance is at the door on Main Street.
Admission is free; visitors buy pogs for $1 each and then browse vendors’ tables to see the wide array of chocolate treats being offered. They purchase them with pogs and may buy as many pogs as they want from roaming volunteers in red aprons.
Heaven for chocolate lovers, the variety of goodies includes chocolate candies, bars, brownies, cakes and fudge, chocolate-covered strawberries and ice cream. And one of the biggest hits each year are the chocolate fountains into which customers may dip fruit, cream-filled doughnut holes or marshmallows.
The vendors will be: Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates, The Capital Candy Jar, Capitol Chocolate Fountains, Chocotenango, Confection Connection, Dave’s Candy Kitchen, El Ceibo/Diestro, HB+M Chocolate, Le Papiyon Chocolatier, Marinucci’s Gelato & Pastry, Mike’s Fudge, Pacari Chocolate, Schokolat, Sugar Mama’s Ice Cream and The Sweet Life Cakery. Chocolate Moonshine, Cardinal Chocolates, River-Sea Chocolate and The Dough Jar.
Chocolate Challenge, Cake Walks
The Chocolate Challenge is a display of creative and imaginative chocolate sculptures, cakes and cupcakes. It runs Feb. 2, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Feb. 3, from noon-4 p.m., and is in a new location this year at 10426 Main St. Admission is $1/adults; children under 18 are free. A designated stroller-parking area is outside the building.
Both professionals and amateurs participate, and entries are judged in various categories. This year’s judges include Cathy Salgado, Megan DuBois, Dawn Hicks and Jennifer Rose. And visitors may use their admission ticket to vote for the People’s Choice Award winner and participate in the silent action of challenge entries, plus items from local businesses.
In addition, cake walks will be held Saturday at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. in Old Town Square, but may be moved indoors if there’s inclement weather. Participants will have the chance to win cakes.
Cookbooks and Valentines
Chocolate Lovers Festival Cookbooks ($10) may be purchased at both the Kiwanis barbecue lunch and the Taste of Chocolate. Or get them at the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center, 10209 Main St. (703-385-8414). Commemorative T-shirts will also be sold at the festival.
The official, 2019 festival valentine features American Legion Post 177. Drawn by local artist Jackie Liedl, these limited-edition valentines cost $5. Each includes a coupon for five, $1 pogs to use at the Taste of Chocolate. Or buy the valentines in advance at City Hall, 10455 Armstrong St., room 123 (Parks and Recreation Dept., 703-385-7858); Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center, 10209 Main St. or from any member of the Independence Day Celebration Committee.
Golden Ticket Contest
The City of Fairfax Office of Economic Development and the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the Golden Ticket Contest. Inspired by the book and movie, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” three golden tickets will be hidden within 1,500 chocolate bars made by local chocolatier, Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates. Some 27 businesses in the Old Town area will sell the chocolate bars for $2 each from Feb.1-10. Lucky finders of the golden ticket will be rewarded with a Chocolate Lovers Gift Basket and a tour of the Cameron’s facility.
Each year, the Chocolate Lovers Festival Committee chooses a charitable organization to receive part of the festival proceeds. The honorees are entities that contribute to the common good and the community at large. This year, three recipients were selected: The Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, Fairfax Law Foundation – Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center, and the City of Fairfax Band Assn.
Where to Park for the Festival
Free parking is available at the following locations, with handicapped parking offered at all sites:
Bank of America, 10440 Main St. (accessible from Route 236 and North Street).
City Hall, 10455 Armstrong St. (accessible from Route 123/Chain Bridge Road and George Mason Boulevard).
City of Fairfax Regional Library, 10360 North St. (accessible from University Drive and Old Lee Highway).
East Street parking lot (accessible from Route 236/Main Street and East Street).
Fairfax County Courthouse Garage B, 4400 Chain Bridge Road (accessible from Page Avenue).
Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center, 10209 Main St.
Fire Station 3, 4081 University Drive.
Old Town Plaza, 3955 Chain Bridge Road (accessible from Route 123/Chain Bridge Road and University Drive).
Old Town Village (behind Pacer’s, 10427 North St.) Open at noon Saturday and all day Sunday; (accessible from University Drive).
Sager Avenue parking lot (accessible from Sager Avenue and University Drive).